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Undercurrent: All your favourites are back for 2017

Beatrice Smith

Canberra’s annual design market that showcases talent from Canberra and beyond is back for 2017.

Undercurrent Design Market is home to the handmade, the unique, the local and the perfect Christmas gift. Now approaching its eighth year, the blockbuster market encompassing ceramics, jewellery, clothing, paper craft and glass (to name just a few) is back for another long weekend of shopping at the National Portrait Gallery from 24-26 November.

Richard Baz , founder of Undercurrent and co-owner of The Curatoreum stores National Portrait Gallery and National Arboretum, says that the market has grown exponentially since Undercurrent’s inception in 2010; however, due to the selective nature of the event, the market has managed to retain its intimate feel.

“We really curate what goes in there,” explains Richard. “That’s what it’s about and that’s our point of difference. We’re small.”

Well, maybe in size but certainly not in numbers. With over 14,000 attending in 2016 and the markets perfectly poised before the festive season, Richard has high hopes for the 2017 edition.

This year, Undercurrent will see 70 makers within 54 stores, which Richard estimates as 60% Canberra makers, with the rest coming from other parts of Australia. While Australian makers and designers who produce offshore and allowed, imported goods are not, which Richard explains helps keep things hyper-local and high-quality.

One designer Richard is looking forward to is High Tea with Mrs Woo (pictured above), which has been a favourite since it first came to Undercurrent in 2014 with their quirky designs made from luxury fabrics such as silk and wool.

0005Love the minimalist look? Local brand Made from Good Deeds won hearts in the HerCanberra office with their clean desk calendars complete with sweet quotes. But their wooden holders are also the perfect desk accessories, comprising of a single piece of wood, perfectly engineered to hold a photo, smartphone or even a tablet.

Tango and James

“They’ve got a whole lot of new ware this year,” explains Richard.

If your house is feeling a little dreary after winter, make a beeline for Tango and James. Their bright, festival cushions shout summer and will liven up any room.

Handmade tableware by Alison Jackson. Image: Christine Pobke

Handmade tableware by Alison Jackson. Image: Christine Pobke

Or, if it’s sleek silver you’re after, one of HerCanberra’s perennial favourites, Alison Jackson, will also be gracing Undercurrent with her range of jewellery and homewares. The talented silversmith’s range combines minimalism with bold shapes to create gorgeous salad servers and ‘cheese tools’, among other things.


Wendy Voon is also one of Richard’s recommendations. “Probably one of our favourite artists, she’s up from Melbourne. She’s one of the most amazing knitwear designers I’ve ever seen—beautiful work.”


If that puts you in the mood for eye-catching homewares, seek out Netty Blair. Her glass tumblers, vases and bowls are embellished with unique touches such as gold foil, creating eye-catching one-of-a-kind pieces.

Shebana Jacobson

Richard also sings the praises of Shabana Jacobson, jewellery he stocks at The Curatoreum. She is also bringing new range of body care products

“She’s one of our strongest suppliers,” he says. “She’s such a powerful woman who just makes and makes and makes. She has over 200 jewellery pieces that she’s designed—all made in Melbourne.”

Aside from handmade goods, you’ll find food and drink from Broadbean Catering at the Museum Café as well as a wine bar out front and live Latin music throughout the day. What more could you want?

the essentials

What: Undercurrent Design Markets 2017
When: Friday 24 November 5-8pm, Saturday 25 November 10am-5pm and Sunday 26 10am-5pm
Where: The National Portrait Gallery
More information: via Facebook

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Beatrice Smith

Bea loves that her job as HerCanberra’s Editorial Coordinator involves eating, drinking and interviewing people - sometimes simultaneously. The master of HerCanberra’s publishing schedule, she’s usually found hunched over a huge calendar muttering to herself about content balance. Otherwise you’ll find her at the movies, ordering a cheese board or ordering a cheese board at the movies. More about the Author

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